Articles Posted in Fatal Trucking Accidents

Trucking accidents often lead to serious or fatal injuries because of the strength and power of the vehicles involved. Victims of Maryland trucking accidents may be dealing with debilitating injuries, the loss of employment, and even the loss of a loved one. If another individual or entity is responsible for injuries arising from a Maryland trucking accident, victims can file claims against those responsible to recover damages for their losses.

In a civil claim, all damages must be proven at trial, unless the parties agree to settle the claim prior to trial. Damages that are recoverable depend on the facts and circumstances of the case, but generally, damages can be recovered for the injuries and losses that the plaintiff suffered due to the defendant’s wrongful actions. Compensatory damages refer to the damages that compensate the victim for the losses suffered. In general, compensatory damages can be divided into two categories: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those with a fixed dollar value, such as the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, the cost of physical therapy, and transportation costs. Non-economic damages do not have a fixed dollar value, such as mental suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of parental or filial care. Economic damages do not have a limit, but there is generally a limit on non-economic damages in Maryland accident cases. Punitive damages are also available in some cases. In a Maryland injury case, punitive damages may be awarded if the defendant acted with actual malice, or with knowing and deliberate wrongdoing. Punitive damages are awarded in cases to serve as a deterrent for others or as a punishment for the defendant’s malicious actions.

A plaintiff must prove damages at trial by a “preponderance of the evidence,” though they must prove punitive damages by a higher standard of “clear and convincing evidence.” In a wrongful death case, the family member who files the case may recover damages to compensate the family member for the loss of their loved one.

In March 2019, a fatal Maryland truck accident killed a 65-year-old man and a 7-year-old boy in Hanford County, Maryland. According to the Baltimore Sun, around 7 AM one morning a tractor-trailer truck was traveling south on Route 24 in Bel Air when it crashed through a line of traffic that was stopped at a red light at the intersection with Ring Factory Road. The truck then burst into flames as it came to rest. The crash caused a pinball effect, sending cars into each other, creating some awful wreckage. Many individuals were left with significant injuries. For example, one woman suffered a traumatic brain injury in addition to severing a nerve in her head. And, tragically, the man and the second-grader were killed.

While this Maryland truck accident made serious headlines in 2019, it fell out of the public eye in the ensuing years. But recently, the case was in the news again, as the criminal trial for the truck driver, a 51-year-old man, began. The case highlights the interesting relationship between the criminal and civil law systems in Maryland. When someone drives negligently, or recklessly, and causes the death of others in a serious truck accident such as this one, they may be subject to both criminal and civil liability.

This criminal trial illustrates how one can be held criminally liable. The driver in the case is charged with two counts of gross negligence manslaughter by motor vehicle, two counts of criminal negligence manslaughter by motor vehicle, and four counts of causing serious injury while using a cellphone. Prosecutors are making their case in front of a jury, trying to prove that the defendant was grossly negligent and should be held criminally liable.

Losing a loved one is one of the most painful experiences imaginable. But, unfortunately, many Maryland families find themselves facing this reality each year as the result of a Maryland truck accident. Because of the size of semi-trucks, Maryland truck accidents can have devastating consequences, causing severe bodily injury and even death. Tragically, some individuals may find themselves in an impossibly difficult situation: mourning the death of a loved one while trying to recover physically from injuries suffered in the same accident.

For example, take a recent tragic semi-truck crash. According to a local news report, the crash occurred on Monday afternoon when a woman was driving her two children—a two-year-old daughter and six-month-old son—when she was rear-ended by a semi-truck. Police say the semi-truck driver wrongfully ran through a stoplight and was at fault in the crash. The woman and her daughter were both flown to local hospitals with severe to life-threatening injuries following the crash. Tragically, her two-month-old son did not survive.

The family is now in the devastating situation of mourning their loss while trying to recover themselves. While the mother, fortunately, is doing well, the two-year-old daughter suffered multiple fractures to her skull and had to undergo surgery for a broken femur. She is in stable condition, but injuries of that extent take a long time to heal, and the medical bills can add up quickly. The financial situation can be exacerbated by the funeral and burial costs for the infant, and the lost wages both parents may have incurred by needing to miss work. While the health and safety of those who survived are of course of the utmost importance, the family likely has realized the significant financial toll that truck accidents can cause.

Inclement weather can cause significant concerns while driving. This past winter has shown how serious these weather concerns can be, causing all sorts of Maryland truck accidents. Even in winter weather, many truck drivers do not have the option of not driving, and so they will continue along the interstate. But slippery conditions, snowbanks, snowplows, and poor visibility can cause significant concerns.

For example, take a recent day with inclement weather. According to a local news article covering the incident, inclement weather at the time caused serious visibility concerns, and several crashes occurred. One notable crash was a 22-vehicle pile-up that left one individual dead and many others injured. That same day, a semi-truck traveling along the Interstate hit a snowplow, causing it to overturn and roll into a ditch. An eyewitness of this truck accident spoke to reporters afterward, saying that the visibility was low and whiteout conditions caused confusion and crashes. He said, “visibility cut and then all of a sudden I was seeing the semi in front of me” and the crash happened out of nowhere. These crashes demonstrate the danger that driving in wintery weather conditions can pose.

While spring is here and the weather is warming up, meaning drivers can expect summer weather to cause fewer Maryland truck accidents than in the winter months, many Maryland families may still be feeling the impact of a winter truck accident. Unfortunately, the damage caused by these accidents can last weeks, months, or even years, depending on the severity of the injuries. Individuals who were injured in the wintry conditions of this past winter may still be suffering, recovering from their injuries and paying off intensive medical bills. Individuals in this situation may be struggling to get by and move past the physical and financial damage that was caused. It is important that they know that they can recover through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. These lawsuits, filed against the person responsible for causing the accident, can provide plaintiffs with significant monetary damages to cover lost wages, medical bills, physical therapy costs, pain and suffering, and other costs. These damages, depending on the extent of the harm caused, can be calculated in the thousands or even the millions. Most importantly, the damages allow for plaintiffs to take the first step towards serious recovery and to not fall into debt as the result of an accident someone else caused.

The inherent nature of driving on public roadways involves some element of risk, as motorists, despite their best efforts, cannot always avoid accidents. This is especially true when the accident is the result of another’s negligence. Although accidents range in severity, Maryland truck accidents tend to result in the most catastrophic injuries to drivers, passengers, and bystanders. Amongst the most dangerous vehicles, 18-wheelers, large semi-trucks, and tourist buses pose the biggest threat to those on the road. The likelihood of serious and potentially fatal injuries significantly increases when two of these vehicles collide.

For example, a prominent news source reported a devastating bus and truck crash that took the lives of 21 individuals. Although the accident took place in another country, it illustrates a situation that can happen on any major roadway in Maryland. According to sources, while a bus overturned while trying to pass a truck. The bus slammed into the truck while negotiating a pass. The collision resulted in an explosive fire, and nearly 20 people suffered complete and fatal burns. Among the deceased were the drivers of both vehicles. State officials explained that the road did not have working traffic lights or signs because it was under construction.

In addition to 18-wheelers and large buses, many other vehicles pose a serious danger to other motorists. Many truck accidents involve dump trucks, tanker trucks, livestock carriers, moving vehicles, and garbage trucks. Moreover, with the overwhelming increase in online ordering and demand for prompt delivery, accidents involving mail delivery trucks have been on the rise. Similarly, emergency responder vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances pose a risk to drivers, as they are generally rushing to their destination.

Truck accidents happen every week all across the country, including many accidents in Maryland. These accidents vary in severity—some may be minor, leaving drivers with minor injuries, if any at all. Others may be more serious, leading to severe bodily injury or even death. Every so often, a particularly horrendous truck accident makes national headlines. Just this month, one of those accidents occurred on the highway in Southern California. The New York Times reported on this devastating accident, which was responsible for at least thirteen deaths.

According to the New York Times’ coverage, the accident occurred early one Tuesday morning. The crash was shocking. According to officials, a Ford Expedition S.U.V. was driving along the highway, traveling west, with twenty-five people packed inside of it. The S.U.V. pulled in front of a tractor-trailer, headed north, in an intersection, causing a collision that led to the S.U.V. almost wrapped around the front of the truck. By the time emergency crews arrived at the scene, twelve people were already dead. Some had been ejected from the S.U.V. due to the force of the collision and were on the pavement. Others were inside the vehicle. Several people were taken to the hospital with injuries, and one later died. The victims from the crash ranged in age from 20 to 55. Officials still are not sure what exactly caused the crash, or why the S.U.V. pulled in front of the truck. They are also concerned about how many people were inside the S.U.V., which has a maximum legal capacity of seven or eight.

This accident shows how just one reckless action—in this case, pulling in front of another vehicle in an intersection—can have devastating consequences. Over a dozen people lost their lives, presumably because of one driver’s actions. Accidents like this are on the severe end of the range of Maryland truck accidents that occur each year, but still raise awareness of how devastating the actions can be. Each Maryland resident should remember that when they are injured in a truck accident, big or small, the state’s law allows them to file a personal injury lawsuit against whoever was responsible. These lawsuits can result in significant monetary damages awarded to crash victims, to compensate them for their pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and more. In fatal crashes like the one above, families may be able to recover that on behalf of their deceased love ones. These lawsuits cannot undo the damage done in Maryland truck accidents, but they can provide families with monetary compensation to assist them in their recovery.

Maryland truck accidents are often caused by some mistake a driver makes on the road. Perhaps they are drowsy, struggling to focus and stay awake while driving, causing them to veer off to the side. Or maybe they are distracted, texting or watching videos on their phone while driving. Others may just be careless, not watching the road carefully and failing to stop when traffic slows down or they near a red light. These types of truck accidents are caused by some actions a driver took while driving, and in these situations, it is fairly easy to know who was at fault and caused the accident. However, there are some situations where the cause of the accident is actually something that happened before the vehicle even got onto the road. In fact, the driver may have been driving safely when the accident occurred. In these cases, injured accident victims might find it harder to figure out what happened and prove fault.

Take, for example, a recent accident reported by a local news station. In late February, a semi-tractor trailer was traveling eastbound on I-70 in the outside lane when the load the truck was carrying broke free, causing large metal pipes to go over the concrete barrier into the westbound lanes. This caused a series of chain events and crashes, involving seven vehicles and leading to one tragic death. One of the metal pipes hit the window and rear of a 2014 Expedition. Afterward, they bounced off that vehicle and landed on top of a 2020 Kia Forte. A Ford pickup truck behind the Kia Forte was unable to stop in time and ended up then hitting the rear of the car. The Kia Forte then spun and hit the outside concrete bridge rail. The driver of that vehicle, a 29-year-old woman, was unfortunately killed. But the damage was not done. Another three vehicles—a 1996 Chevy pickup truck, a 2008 Toyota Camry, and a 2019 semi-tractor trailer—all ended up hitting the metal pipes. In total, 15 individuals and seven vehicles were involved in this major accident.

This tragic example illustrates how actions—or the lack of actions—before a truck even starts driving could cause serious Maryland truck accidents. While it’s not currently known why exactly the load broke free, similar accidents have been caused by negligent product design, negligent upkeep, and negligence in safety checks. Any one of those things could have been the cause of the crash, the resulting injuries, and the tragic death. It is important for Maryland families to remember that even though those negligent actions happened before the truck was on the road, they can still be the basis of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. These lawsuits can provide significant monetary compensation to those injured in Maryland truck accidents.

Sometimes, in the aftermath of a Maryland truck accident, it’s not exactly clear what happened or who’s to blame. Accidents happen quickly—in the blink of an eye—and those involved (or even eyewitnesses) might not know afterward who hit who or how the two vehicles collided—only that they did. Sometimes, it can take a significant amount of investigation after a crash to determine the cause and the series of events. Accident reconstruction experts may investigate, but sometimes the cause of the accident will not be known until quite a bit after it’s occurred.

For example, take a recent three-vehicle truck accident that occurred in the first week of this year. According to a local news article covering the accident, the crash occurred on a Monday afternoon around 1 PM. A driver in a semitrailer truck came upon a car waiting to turn left but failed to slow down for some unknown reason. The truck driver swerved to miss the vehicle waiting to turn—since they could not stop in time—but while swerving they struck another vehicle traveling the opposite direction head-on, and also collided with the turning vehicle. This three-vehicle crash left one driver—the driver struck head-on—dead. It is unclear what injuries were suffered or the extent of the other damage, but the county police accident reconstruction team came to the scene to investigate, and the road was closed down for a while. The crash remains under investigation.

Because it takes a while to figure out exactly what happened in a Maryland truck accident, many people who are injured in one wait before contacting an attorney. But those injured who might want to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver should contact an attorney right away—even if they are not sure if they have a case, or whose fault the accident was, or even what happened. Working with an attorney right away keeps your options open and also ensures you do not miss the window of time within which you must file suit—the statute of limitations. In Maryland, you must file suit within three years. If you prolong getting an attorney, you may forget or procrastinate, and then miss the statute of limitations. That’s why all those involved in a truck accident are encouraged to speak to an attorney right away, to make sure they are aware of their legal rights and prepared to file suit if need be.

In order to successfully recover in a personal injury lawsuit after a Maryland truck accident, a plaintiff must prove that there was negligence on the part of the defendant. In everyday language, negligence just means failing to be careful. However, it is actually a fairly complicated legal term. In Maryland, personal injury lawsuits, proving negligence means proving four distinct elements: (1) duty; (2) breach; (3) causation; and (4) damages.

First, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant (usually the truck driver) owed a duty of care to the victim. Truck drivers—in fact, all Maryland drivers—owe a duty of care to others on the road or around them, including pedestrians, drivers of other vehicles, and cyclists. The duty of care means they must act reasonably carefully as to not injure others. The next step is proving that the defendant breached this duty. Here, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant did not act with reasonable care. Perhaps they were texting while driving, or ran a red light, or driving while intoxicated. All of these things could be sufficient to prove that the defendant breached their duty. Third, the plaintiff must connect this breach of duty to the accident. In other words, did the defendant’s breach cause the accident? If the defendant ran a red light, they might have breached their duty, but if the crash was caused three minutes later because of a brake failure, then the breach was not likely the cause of the accident. Lastly, the plaintiff must prove that they suffered damages as a result of the accident. This can be proved by submitting medical bills, or bringing an expert witness who can testify to the damage the plaintiff suffered.

In some cases, proving negligence can be pretty straightforward, as the facts of what happened are obvious, but it may be more difficult in other cases. Take, for example, a recent truck accident that occurred not on the highway, as many do, but at a truck stop. According to a local news article, the crash happened early one Thursday morning this month at a truck stop and service center off the highway. Many details are not known at this time, but a tractor-trailer struck a pedestrian, killing them. The accident is still under investigation by the state’s highway patrol. Because so few facts are known, and the victim of the accident was tragically killed, this is a perfect example of a case where proving negligence may be more difficult.

Last month, a tragic Maryland truck accident left one dead and another injured in Derwood, Maryland. According to a local news report covering the incident, the crash occurred between a car and a box truck on Shady Grove Road early one morning. As a result of the crash, the box truck tumbled over the embankment, landing on its side and trapping the driver inside. The driver of the car was taken to the hospital with serious injuries, where he was later pronounced dead. Officials found it difficult, however, to immediately access the truck’s driver. Because of the slope of the embankment, rescue workers from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue were brought in and had to use a system of ropes with a medical basket attacked to get the driver of the truck free. He suffered serious, but not life-threatening, injuries and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

In cases like this, those who were injured (or the deceased’s family) may be interested in pressing charges against the other party to recover financially for their injuries. But sometimes, it is very unclear who was negligent and caused the accident. And, in some cases, both parties might believe that the other was negligent. For example, if the family of the deceased driver decides to file suit against the box truck driver, they may bring in evidence and an expert witness who can reconstruct the accident and explain what likely happened in a way that points the finger at the truck driver as being the negligent one. However, the defendant truck driver may come back with a defense of contributory negligence. This means they may bring in other evidence—usually a different expert witness—trying to prove that the plaintiff was also negligent, and that their negligence contributed to the crash.

For example, suppose the plaintiff brings into evidence that the truck driver was texting while driving, and that he swerved and hit the plaintiff’s car. This points to him as being negligent. However, the truck driver may want to bring in other evidence that the car driver ran a red light right before the accident, which placed him in the lane even though he should have been stopped by the light. In this case, both sides argue that the other was negligent and played a role in causing the crash. Depending on the strength of the evidence and the jury, these cases could go several ways—with a verdict finding the defendant not liable, finding the defendant liable, or finding them both negligent. In the latter, the plaintiff’s damages may be reduced by the percentage “fault” he was thought to have been at.

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